Nurse Nik: HIV / AIDS Awareness by the numbers.
Updated: Sep 23, 2019
September 18th was National HIV/AIDS Awareness day to call attention to the growing number of people living with HIV and to the age-related challenges of HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care. There are approximately 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV today. About 15% of them (1 in 7) are unaware they are infected ( https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/statistics, 2019).
In the state of Washington African Americans make up 4% of the population, but 16% out of that are diagnosed with HIV. On a more reginal level, 6% of King County residents are African American and out of that 19% are diagnosed with HIV. The current position of the HIV/AIDS situation is alarming and African Americans are the ones primarily disproportionately affected by HIV.
Factors leading to the real issues affecting the community include: Social stigma, poverty, lack of insurance, lack of access to medical care, discrimination and the halt of medic aid expansion in most southern states. HIV diagnoses are not evenly distributed regionally in the U.S. The highest diagnoses were in the South, with Georgia being the #1 state in rates of new infections. There are approximately 37,155 people living with HIV in Atlanta alone (https://aidsvu.org/local-data/united-states/south/georgia/atlanta/, 2019). Dr. Carlos Del Rio who is co-director of Emory University’s Center for AIDS was quoted to say, “Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe” (https://www.wsbtv.com/news/2-investigates/atlantas-hiv-epidemic-compared-to-third-world-african-countries/263337845, 2018).
This disease has shifted from one that primarily affected drug users and homosexuals in the 80’s to just about every population in this present day. If we can increase awareness, education, medical care, and testing we can drive down the rate of new infections. I highly promote having open discussions with your partner about their status, as well as, your own and to get tested. In being transparent we can then start to be responsible and accountable towards living a healthier life.
There are now FDA approved oral swab kits which you can find at you local Walgreens or Walmart Pharmacy. These tests can be done in the privacy of your own home and will create peace of mind. For those who do not have insurance, due to lack of finances, you will be pleased to know that Washington State has great Medic Aid benefits for those who are below the poverty level. Institutions like Planned Parenthood can help you sign up for insurance benefits with their free enrollment assistance. Apple Health (Medic Aid) is available for year-round enrollment and it covers yearly screenings, doctors’ visits, and annual exams with no co-pay. So, if you don’t make that much money and have no insurance I encourage you to apply!
Special thanks to Africatown Media and OutsideThinc. Thank you for putting this together and helping me to create social awareness within the community.
Health Insurance Resources:
Planned Parenthood 1-800-769-0045
Multi Service Agency and Support:
POCAAN (People of Color Against Aids Network) - 206-322-7061 http://pocaan.org/POCAAN/
Atlanta. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://aidsvu.org/local-data/united-states/south/georgia/atlanta/
Centers for Disease Control. (2019, August 16). U.S. Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/statistics
EndPlay. (2018, November 30). Atlanta's HIV 'epidemic' compared to third world African countries. Retrieved from https://www.wsbtv.com/news/2-investigates/atlantas-hiv-epidemic-compared-to-third-world-african-countries/263337845